Apr 26, 2018 | By David

A team of researchers based at the UK’s University of Huddersfield has recently made a significant breakthrough in the field of 3D bio-printing. The team has developed a special fluid gel that can be used as a medium for suspension of biological material. This will solve a common problem faced by scientists attempting to replicate soft human tissue, which is the extremely low levels of viscosity of the polymer bio-printing materials used.

3D bio-printing usually works by laying down layers of a biological material in a specific structure, which is then used as a scaffold for organic tissue to form. The approach has huge potential for the treatment of broken bones, flesh wounds, and other tissue damage, as it enables the artificially directed growth of tissue from a detailed digital design, with an organic basis that prevents any issues relating to biocompatibility. Using the technology to print softer tissues has so far been limited, however, as the liquid-like texture of the bio-polymer means that the printed structure doesn't stabilize.

"With very low viscosity materials, when you lay down the first layer, it collapses under its own weight and doesn’t retain its shape," said Dr Alan Smith, Reader in Biopolymer Materials at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Applied Science. "When you put the next layer on it won’t integrate."

Along with his former PhD student Dr Samuel Moxon and colleagues at the University of Birmingham, Smith has now come up with a way of making the bio-printing of softer tissues more effective. Instead of having to stand on its own and adhere to the print platform, the biological tissue’s first layer will be suspended in a viscous gel that the researchers have fabricated. This keeps its stability and enables the subsequent layers to be added until a structure is built up. The gel functions in a similar way to the viscous amniotic fluid in which an embryo first develops. Once the structure is complete, the fluid gel can then be easily washed away, without any damage being caused to the tissue.

The university acquired a state-of-the-art 3D bio-printer to help further this research, and it could now go on to have a huge range of different applications. The team carried out a successful proof-of-concept on the suspended manufacturing technique, which was outlined in an article called "Suspended Manufacture of Biological Structures", published in the Advanced Materials journal. This article describes in detail the creation of tissue scaffolds that could be used for the production of osteochondrial plugs, in order to repair cartilage defects.

The team is now attempting to integrate the method into more advanced tissue engineering research. They are currently investigating the use of a wide range of different polymer materials, to produce structures that could make their way to clinical trials in a relatively short time.

(source: University of Huddersfield)

One area of focus is working with stem cells, in order to expand the range of uses of their method. Stem cells develop differently based on how they are stimulated by their surroundings, so they can become bone cells, fat cells, muscle cells or any other type of cell, depending on their environment. Using stem cells in combination with the team’s fluid gel suspension approach, a single basic method could be developed to print a graduated range of different types of biological material, from very soft to very stiff.

(source: Youtube, University of Huddersfield)



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Michael Joyce wrote at 4/29/2018 2:49:54 PM:

This is not a new method and their “state of the art” bioprinter isn’t even the most advanced one cellink offers. Dr. Adam Feinberg developed the FRESH method years ago.

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